Amazing how fast those days off seems to melt away, I certainly hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge their batteries. I spent a lot of time playing with the kids, we ventured to the University on Saturday and spent Sunday with my mom and her brother and 4 sisters. It was so nice be with my uncle and aunties again, as it reminded me of the many, many times we spent together sharing stories, laughing, crying, singing around the piano, playing cards, or crokinole. One thing for sure, once everyone is back together we all know how to interact, it’s just part of our family culture. Over the years people have aged, we’ve said tearful farewells to family members, however we’ve also shed tears as we welcomed new family members through marriages and child birth. Through the years there have been many constants that have been handed down from grandparents to parents to children. This is what a family does.
I caught myself thinking about our school family, how people may leave and how new members may arrive. I think about the culture of Waldheim School and the culture of adult learning that is thriving. As a new member I can see things others may now take for granted, things that have always just been “how we do things around here”. One thing that has stood out over anything else is the culture of caring at Waldheim School, the way we care for our students and the way we care for one another. This cannot go unnoticed by our students, they have to see the way we care, and I truly believe that this is one of the reasons we have such a caring student body.
One of the clear benefits of having this caring environment is the risks it affords us as teachers to take. Our kids know we care, so they are likely more willing to “cut us some slack” if we try something and it flops. Having a culture like this at our school allows us to be transformational, it allows us to really analyze what it is we are doing as professionals. In tonight’s learning link, author Todd Finley talks about the art and science of teaching, and how we need to facilitate the “productive struggle”. Have a read and see if you can identify things you are doing already and maybe some areas where you can give yourself a little nudge.
We are going to start asking kids for their feedback next week, as the OurSCHOOL (formerly Tell Them From Me) survey will be administered. I’ve set up a schedule and once Chris and I double check to make sure the times work we will let you know when your students will have a chance to share their voice with us.
Here is what lies ahead this week:
Prep day ~ Chris, Bruce, Brenda meeting 8:15 – 8:45
After a long one last week, we are looking at a three day week coming up. Of course this does not mean it will not be a busy three days, our time is always in demand. I hope you have all been enjoying your books that you selected for our book club, I know I’m enjoying Mindset by Carol Dweck as it is causing me to reflect quite a bit on what I have believed about my own potential and how I can fall prey to a fixed mindset.
This week we are very fortunate to be hosting 7 other administrators. On Tuesday, admin teams from Osler, Stobart, and Dundurn will be spending the morning with us. While they are here they will be spending some time in Blaine and Shantel’s rooms, as well as observing Glen in the shop and Trace in the gym. It should be an exciting time, so when you see a large group of principals and vice principals roaming the hallways don’t be surprised and please feel free to stop and chat.
As I think about the purpose of the admin visits I can’t help but think of the importance of feedback, not only at the administrative level, but at all levels. How are you doing with giving feedback to students? Is it timely? Does it inform their next steps? How are we (Chris & I) doing with giving you feedback? Is it timely? Does it inform your next steps? In learning link one the discussion focuses on peer critiquing, and shows this taking place in a variety of settings. How do you see this working in your room?
The second learning link is from Pernille Ripp’s tremendous blog. In this post she talks about the emotions that can, at times, over take us. In a very open, revealing blog post she recounts a situation where she reads to her students only to be overcome with emotion. I think it is important that our students see us as human, as people with empathy, as people who are more than just teachers. In the end it comes down to relationships, how we build them and how we maintain them. As you read, think about ways you are building authentic learning relationships with your students…oh, and if you are like me you may want to grab a tissue or two.
Here is what lies ahead for this abbreviated school week:
staff meeting (pm) ~ focus is on our books
Bruce & Chris at ALT all day (am: school admin visits, pm: in Warman)
Remembrance Day ceremony ~ classes will be called down to gym
please ask students to complete a locker clean up today
Hard to believe we are moving into November this week, the time is really flying! Had a great weekend decorating the yard and carving pumpkins, the kids are really excited, and I have to admit, I’m a little excited too. Hopefully whatever occupied your time this weekend you were able to relax and enjoy the company of those you care about.
We have a busy week coming up with interviews, I hope everyone is looking forward to sharing the great things that are going on here at Waldheim School. The first learning link this week is a resource that contains tips and strategies for parent/teacher conferences. Hopefully you have thought about what it is you are going to share with parents and have some examples on hand as some evidence of learning. I know they are long days, but they are very important in the building of the home and school connection.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our engagement work since last week and continue to ask myself the question, “how do we know what will engage the kids?” I’ve had a lot of conversations with students and have asked them what they would like to learn about, many of them are stumped for an answer. As the conversation continues we usually come around to the topic of relevance, the students usually want to know why they are learning what it is they are learning. We’ve all seen kids who are motivated to work on things on their own time simply because of the intrinsic rewards that are offered by the task itself. I think about the kids who worked so hard to make the school dance the best possible experience it could be for the other students. They did not do this because there was a mark attached to their work, they did so because they knew the reward would be worth the effort. This summer I read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, and while many of the ideas in the book were geared towards business, the overlap with education was undeniable. In learning link two, Pink talks about motivation. As you watch, what connections do you make to what happens in schools today? What changes do you need to make to help students become more intrinsically motivated? What do you need to make those changes? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.